Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil's 'Being Mary Jane' Opens Urbanworld Film Festival (Exclusive)

Joe Pugliese

The drama starring Gabrielle Union as a single career woman will bow on BET in early 2013.

Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil’s Being Mary Jane will open the 16th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival Sept. 20 in New York.

Formerly titled Single Black Female, Being Mary Jane (written by Mara Brock Akil and directed by Salim Akil) stars Gabrielle Union (Think Like a Man) as Mary Jane Paul, a successful TV news anchor who is still single and whose large extended family does not share her career ambitions.

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Omari Hardwick plays Union’s love interest. The cast also includes Lisa Vidal, Margaret Avery, Richard Brooks, B.J. Britt, Raven Goodwin, Aaron D. Spears, Richard Roundtree, Robin Lee, Latarsha Rose, Tika Sumpter and Stephen Bishop.

Being Mary Jane will air on BET in early 2013 and serve as a backdoor pilot for what will be BET’s first original drama. It is the Akils second series for BET after half-hour comedy The Game, which broke ratings records at the netowrk. The Akils, who also produced Whitney Houston’s final film Sparkle (Mara Brock Akil wrote the script and Salim Akil directed), have a wide-ranging production deal with BET.

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Urbanworld takes place September 19-23 at AMC 34th Street in Manhattan. BET is a presenting sponsor. This year’s festival includes a one-day digital symposium Sept. 19 sponsored by HBO that will feature panels on crowd funding content and new opportunities in distribution. Schedule and ticket information can be found at